A/N: This was actually written as my final for my Advanced Composition class, but I liked it enough to post it.
I suppose you could say it was a long time coming. In truth, it had been quite some time since the Dream faded.
Why was I sitting on this train bound for Chicago? Meeting could hardly be a good idea, but I don't think I wanted to leave loose ends. Maybe it was time to tie them up.
I wondered just why the call had come now out of all the years that had passed, unexpected and out of the blue. Perhaps Daisy had loose ends to untangle as well. Maybe we both hoped to find the answer within each other.
Only two days ago, I received a telephone call.
"Is this Nick Carraway?"
The familiar voice sounded strange coming through the receiver in my hand.
"Daisy?" I exclaimed.
"Nick, dear, it is you! I was afraid I'd gotten the wrong number!"
It felt to me the most peculiar thing. A simple telephone call seemed so foreign as my mind flew back to that eventful, fateful summer of 1922, over ten years ago. My thoughts were so preoccupied that I didn't notice Daisy begin to speak again.
"…so long and I've been a regular fool for not keeping in touch. It was rather rude of me, wasn't it?" Daisy didn't wait for an answer. "Anyway, I've been wondering if you would like to come up to Chicago—after all, that is where we live now—to have lunch and chat, maybe this Tuesday? I think it's a lovely idea."
I paused for a moment as her words registered. Daisy wanted to meet. Different scenarios played out in my head. How would it go over should I accept? I'd step out of the train. Would we meet at the station? We'd drive to some small restaurant—no, something with a degree of class, but not too flashy as per Daisy's preferences—and then what? What was there to say? Her voice drew me out of my musings.
"Nick? Nick, are you there?"
"Oh! Of course, of course."
"I mean, of course I'll come," I said, deciding quickly.
"Oh, that's wonderful! We can have lunch in this lovely restaurant called Silver Castle. It's right near the…"
I stopped listening. There was something off about what I was hearing, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
"That sounds great, Daisy," I said when she paused. "I'll be sure to make it on time."
"Perfect! I know you'll just adore it."
"Is Tom going to be there?"
"Daisy, is Tom having lunch with us?"
"Tom?" Daisy's voice had taken on a distant tone. "Why I hadn't thought to tell him."
Little else was said on the subject, or at all for that matter. We said our goodbyes with the promise of a luncheon at the Silver Castle on this coming Tuesday at one o' clock sharp. I wasn't sure whether to anticipate or dread it as I hung up the telephone.
I arrived at the station at noon and called a taxi to bring me to the restaurant. The many hours on the train made walking a joy. I wandered inside as there was no point in waiting out on the street. It wasn't hard to spot Daisy. We were both early.
She sat by herself at a table towards the left side of the large, open room, tiredly entertaining a large tulip glass full of burgundy liquid. I was correct about the caliber of the restaurant. I approached the table.
Daisy looked up when she noticed me, suddenly animated.
"Nick! How are you? You're looking fine after all these years."
She'd aged rather gracefully. I observed her as she talked. There were hints of gray in her light hair and faint, tight lines around her mouth and at the corners of her darkened eyes. She sat heavy, like lead. But this time, not as if she were lead; it was like there were weights pulling her down. Daisy wasn't much over thirty years old.
Chicago had been good for Daisy. It was more exciting and there was always something new to do. The weather was pleasant and the people were charming and uninquisitive—albeit fast paced. Somehow, I couldn't make myself believe Chicago was such a good thing.
"How are Tom and the baby?" I asked.
I'd forgotten that her daughter must be at least ten years old.
"Hm? Oh, they're fine," Daisy answered absently, making no remark about my blunder. She swirled what remained of the burgundy liquid around in her glass. "I suppose you should come to see them someday…"
I simply nodded. I had no intention of seeing Tom again nor did she expect me to do so.
"Are you happy?"
"What?" She seemed surprised, nearly taken aback, just like when I asked about Tom on the telephone. I seemed to catch her off guard.
"Are you happy?" I asked again.
"I'm a fool, Nick."
One thing I knew about Daisy was that she was not an oblivious, naïve half-wit, no matter how much she pretended to be. There was more to her than that. But I could find no response for her.
This Daisy was much more grounded. She was not light as air, floating upon the chair she sat on. I finally figured out what it was that was off about her—her voice. Whereas I used to think it had an indescribably seductive quality, Gatsby once said her voice was full of money. Now, that bright, appealing ring was gone. I had a vague feeling this would be the last time we'd see each other.
I know the last thing she said will stay with me for a long time.
"Nick, do you think I made the right choice?"
I stopped. It was the first—and I'm sure the last—time she would ever speak of it.
"I can't say, Daisy."
I find myself hoping her daughter does grow up to be a fool.
As I'm sitting on the train back to Long Island, I realize there were never really any loose ends to begin with. I think I was searching for something in Daisy from that summer so long ago. We've both changed irreparably.
I never did find what I was looking for, whatever it was.